The Pirates' ownership will not change hands for the foreseeable future, chairman Bob Nutting stated emphatically yesterday at PNC Park.
"Absolutely not," he said. "My family plans to own this franchise on a multi-generational level, and I look forward to my daughters being involved someday, as well. We believe in what we're doing here, and we plan to see it through and win. We look forward to doing that for many, many years to come."
Nutting had told the Post-Gazette last week that he would back any move general manager Neal Huntington made to improve the baseball team, even if it were trading Jack Wilson and/or Freddy Sanchez, even it meant most of the public backlash would be aimed at him. Both of those happened.
"This was something we could see coming because Jack and Freddy, obviously, were popular players," Nutting said. "But we believe we're doing the right thing, and I'm standing behind our people working hard to improve the team."
Nutting was asked, in light of the recent trades paring payroll by $20 million to $31 million, if payroll might go back to the $50 million level by next year. He, like team president Frank Coonelly earlier in the week, said it is too soon to determine that, adding that management first wants to assess its needs as well as the coming free-agent market.
He did, however, endorse Huntington's this-is-the-group sentiment that the Pirates would prefer to build from the current roster -- including keeping those who perform over the long term -- although he did so without pledging to spend up to any specific level.
"If you look at all the talent we've brought here, what's already in Pittsburgh and what's coming, you can see that we've made tremendous strides," Nutting said. "We're very much looking forward to watching this group grow together."
Nutting watched batting practice and introduced himself to all of the new players, as well as talking with the team's few remaining veterans to assure them of ownership's commitment.
Nutting has been buying out limited partners for years, to the point he became controlling owner in January 2007 and now is believed to own 65 percent of the franchise.
The Pirates yesterday suspended Bryan Morris, one of their top three pitching prospects and the main acquisition in the Jason Bay trade, for displaying "unprofessionalism" in his Thursday start for Class A Lynchburg, director of player development Kyle Stark said.
"Through various comments and actions during his outing the other night, he disrespected the umpires, his manager, his teammates and the organization," Stark said.
He will remain on the Pirates' minor league suspended list "indefinitely," Stark added.
Morris, 22, is 2-6 with a 5.91 ERA.
Reliever Donnie Veal, the Pirates' Rule 5 draft pick, is expected to be assigned to the Arizona Fall League, where the team will use him as a starter.
"There aren't too many big-time left-handed starters, and Donnie's got the stuff to be that," Russell said.
• New pitcher Kevin Hart threw a side session yesterday and is set to make his first start Wednesday against Arizona.
• Shortstop prospect Chase D'Arnaud returned two weeks earlier than expected to Lynchburg's lineup after a sprained thumb ligament in mid-July.
• New shortstop Ronny Cedeno was first on the infield yesterday afternoon, taking extra grounders from infield instructor Perry Hill. Cedeno, on replacing Wilson: "It's OK. I'm just happy to be there. I'm going to play my game."